Alternative and Complementary Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, and Depression
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Posted by: Brook Schales
Alternative and Complementary Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety
Presented by Dr. John Hahn
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that may occur after exposure to extreme
traumatic events, such as natural disasters (example, floods accidents (e.g., car accidents, fire), and man-
made, (e.g., war camps, torture, wars) traumatic events (APA 1980; 1987; 1994). The core symptoms
and diagnostic criteria according to the DSM (III, III-R, and IV) are reexperiencing the trauma; numbing
of responsiveness and avoidance; and hyperarousal. The condition is highly prevalent, with considerable
morbidity and high co morbidity with other psychiatric disorders, such as major depression (APA 1980;
Natural therapies utilizing a combination of vitamins, herbal extracts, and amino acids have shown
clinical success in treating patients diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other anxiety
disorders. The constituents of a successful natural formula for the treatment of these conditions
include vitamin B6 as pyridoxine HCL hydrochloride, , L-Tyrosine, GABA, and 5-HTP (L -5
hydroxytryptophane), and 5-MTHF, (5-Methyltetrahydrofolate), and Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis).
These individual substances have been researched over a number of years to determine how they affect
the physiology of the human being and by placing these patients on naturally occurring substances
together in a specific ratio, preliminary studies have shown a dramatic reduction in stress and anxiety in
humans, with an extremely high safety profile.
The various components of this natural substance protocol that I use to treat these types of patients who
have diagnosed posttraumatic stress syndrome and anxiety are as follows:
5-HTP is extracted from the seeds of a plant called Griffonia simpicifolia, which is mainly found in
West Central African thickets, usually associated with mounds of the termite macrotermes on plains,
in forests, in secondary vegetation, and old farms. The recommended dosage is 100 milligrams BID, to
Griffonia contains several indol derivatives including 5-hydroxy-L-Tryptophane, indole-3-acetyl
aspartic acid and 5-hydroxy-indole-3-acetic acid.
The clinical effects of 5-hydroxy Tryptophane (5-HTP) occur through the intermediate metabolite of
the amino acid L-Tryptophane (L T) in the serotonin pathway. Therapeutic uses of 5-HTP bypasses
the conversion of LT into 5-HTP by the enzyme Tryptophane hydrolase, which is the rate limiting step
in the synthesis of serotonin. Tryptophane hydrolase can be inhibited by numerous factors, including
stress, insulin resistance, vitamin B6 deficiency, and insufficient magnesium. In addition, these same
factors can increase the conversion of LT to kynurenine via Tryptophane oxygenase, making LT
unavailable for serotonin production.
5-HTP functions as an antioxidant, and not as LT which can actually promote oxidative damage. 5-HTP
is well absorbed from an oral dose, with about 70% ending up in the bloodstream. Absorption of 5-
HTP is not affected by the presence of other amino acids; therefore it may be taken with meals, or other
amino acids, without reducing its effectiveness.
Unlike LT, 5-HTP cannot be shunted into niacin or protein production. Serotonin levels in the brain
are highly dependent upon levels of 5-HTP and LT in the central nervous system. 5-HTP easily
crosses the blood-brain barrier, not requiring the presence of a transport molecule. LT, on the other
hand, requires use of a transport molecule to gain access to the central nervous system. Since it shares
this transport molecule several other amino acids, the presence of these competing amino acids can
inhibit LT transport into the brain. 5-HTP acts primarily by increasing levels of serotonin within the
central nervous system. Other neurotransmitters and CNS chemicals, such as melatonin, dopamine,
norepinephrine, and data endorphin, have also been shown to increase following oral initiation of 5-
Some 40 clinical studies have evaluated the clinical effectiveness of 5-HTP in depression. In an open
trial design, a total of 107 patients with endogenous uni-polar oral bipolar depression were given daily
oral doses of 5-HTP from 50 to 300 mg. Significant improvement was observed in 74 of the patient's
(69%), and knows in significant side effects were reported. The response rate in most of these patients
was quite rapid (less than two weeks). Speed of response was substantially addressed in a study of 59
patients with eight different types of depression. 5-HTP was administered orally in doses from hundred
50 to 300 mg daily for a period of three weeks for this particular study.
A double-blind clinical trial was carried out involving 26 hospitalized, depressed patients who were
randomized into two groups and receiving chlorimipramine (50 mg/per day), combined with L-5 HTP
(300 mg 4/day) in group A., and with placebo in group B.. For 28 days, patients were reevaluated by
the HRSD each week, and by DSI the beginning and end of the treatment. The results for both types of
pathology were qualitatively and quantitatively more positive for group A than for group B. (Nardini,
Adverse reactions to 5-HTP has been: heartburn, stomach pain, flatulence, diarrhea, and vomiting. 5-
HTP may all cause asymptomatic eosinophilia.
Dosage for mild to moderate depression may be 50 mg three times a day.
Mucuna pruriens, (also known as velvet bean) is an annual plant which is a climbing shrub with long
lines that can reach over 50 m. It bears white, lavender or purple flowers in pods and covered with lose
orange hairs which can cause a severe itch they come in contact with skin.
The chemical compounds responsible for the itch are aprotein, macunain, and serotonin.
Pharmacology Mucuna pruriens’ seeds contains high concentrations of levodopa, a direct precursor of
the neurotransmitter dopamine. It has been used traditionally Ayurvedic Indian medicine for diseases
including Parkinson's disease. In large amounts (example 30 g) it has been shown to be as effective as a
pure levodopa 4/carbidopa in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, but no data on long-term efficacy and
tolerability is available.
In addition to levodopa, Mucuna also contains 5-HTP, nicotine, N, N -DMT, bufoteine, and 5-MeO-
DMT. Due to its dopamine inducing properties, when combined with other supplements stimulates the
cholinergic system giving the patient greater motivation and confidence. (See reference).
5-Methyltetrahydrofolate is the active form of folic acid is capable of passing through the blood brain
barrier. It is a member of the B-complex family of vitamins, and works in concert with B12. 5- MTHF
is necessary for DNA synthesis, in addition to being a methyl-group donor involved in many body
processes. Therapeutically, folic acid can reduce homocysteine levels and the occurrence of neural tube
defects; it also may play a role in preventing cervical dysplasia and protecting its neoplasia in ulcerative
colitis. Neuropsychiatric conditions that may be secondary to folate deficiency include dementia,
schizophrenia-like syndromes, insomnia, irritability, forgetfulness, endogenous depression, organic
psychosis, peripheral neuropathy, myelopathy, and restless leg syndrome. (See References)
5-MTHF’s primary mechanism of action is through its role as a methyl donor in a range of
metabolic and nervous system biochemical processes, as well as being necessary for DNA synthesis.
Neuropsychiatric diseases secondary to folate deficiency include those mentioned above. Five MTHF-
participates in raising low serum and red blood cell folate concentrations which have been shown to
have an have an association with depression. Folate deficiency may also predict a poor response to some
antidepressant medications (references).
Some clinical studies have shown a positive affect on the morbidity of some bi-polar patients placed on
lithium therapy. (See References)
A syndrome characterized by mild depression, permanent muscular and intellectual fatigue and
mild symptoms of restless legs, depressed ankle jerk reflexes, diminution of vibration sensation in
the legs, stocking-type hypoesthesia, and long-lasting constipation appear to respond to folic acid
supplementation of 5-10 mg per day for 6-12 months. (See Reference)
Vitamin B6 (also known as Pyridoxine and Pyridoxal 5-phosphate -phosphate) was first isolated in
1934 and named by Albert Szent-Gyorgy. (Reference). The metabolically active coenzyme form of
B6 is pyridoxal 5-phosphate (P5P), which is the main circulating form, exported from the liver and is
considered the most relevant direct measure of B6 status. (See Reference)
Pyridoxine will reduce the efficacy of levodopa in controlling Parkinson's symptoms, the magnitude of
the effect is proportional to the dose of the pyridoxine. (See Reference)
L-Tyrosine is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain. It is a precursor to dopamine,
norepinephrine and epinephrine. Brain concentrations of these neurotransmitters are dependent upon
the intake of tyrosine. Tyrosine requires biopterin (a folate derivative), NADPH and NADH (forms of
niacin), copper and vitamin C. L-dopa is an amino acid which is synthesized from tyrosine. Tyrosine
is also a precursor to thyroid hormones and catecholestrogens, (these compounds have estrogen and
catecholamine like effects (See reference). Tyrosine is also involved in the synthesis of enkephalins,
substances which have pain relieving effects in the body, and melanin pigment in the body.
Clinical treatment of depression has been shown to be positive with or dosages of 1to6 g/per day.
L-Tyrosine has also been reported to help with cocaine and nicotine addiction. L-Tyrosine aids in
decreasing appetite in large doses, up to 6 g per day. This increase may be through the enhanced
production of catecholamines.
Lemon balm has been used historically as an anxiolytic, a mild sedative and calming agent. One human
study has shown that it is effective at reducing stress, although the study's authors call for further
research. Lemon balm extract has been identified as a potent in vitro inhibitor of GABA transaminase,
which explains the anxiolytic effect. The major compound responsible for GABA transaminase
inhibition activity in lemon balm was found to be rosemeric acid.
Gamma-amino butyric acid, (GABA), is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mature brain, and its
actions are primarily excitatory in the developing brain. GABA was first synthesized in 1883, and is
available in an oral form as a nutritional supplement. One human study suggests that orally administered
GABA increases the amount of human growth hormone.
In summary, there are a variety of clinically proven nutraceuticals for the treatment of posttraumatic
stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Products such as Anxiety Balance manufactured by Priority One
Nutritional Supplements contain many of the ingredients necessary for rebalancing neurotransmitters
in individual patients who have posttraumatic stress disorder and anxiety. Also available from this
company are single amino acids such as 5- HTP and 5- MTHF. (
References: Priority One Nutritional Supplements Incorporated. 2681 Delta Ring Road. Ferndale,
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